Spanglish: “Right” Or “Wrong”?

The fact that we even ask this question shows our prejudice. Language, like all things, is continually growing and changing. “Proper” Spanish and English neither came about in a single night or from a single creator and they both had mothers from which they evolved to become what they are today…so called “Castilian Spanish” or “Proper English.”

Spanglish may not be accepted in scholarly writing, but it does have a place in American culture and obviously has been useful to many individuals, or it wouldn’t have evolved as it has.  Language grows in response to our need for more words to express ourselves.  Near our borders, where cultures and languages mingle, what’s wrong with each one bending a little to allow the other?  In border regions in foreign countries it’s common to find “mixed” words and we’re open to regional dialects in bilingual Latin America, so why not here on our own borders?

It saddens me that we often fail to accept things in the beginnings of their evolution. It seems that no matter the topic, we seem to struggle with change. We are compelled to sweep everything into neat little categories and language is no exception.  Spanglish, Creole, Ebonics…whether we see fit to accept them or not, are all valid dialects in their own right.  They serve their communities through the creation of words that address the linguistic needs of the people.  Now some are probably looking at these three examples and thinking, “These are made up dialects from people who lack understanding of their own language“.  But remember that Spanish is derived from Latin and English found it’s roots in Germanic language.   Both evolved out of necessity and continue to thrive today simply because they were the ones that won the colonization game. There is no one language that is better than another and dialects will thrive as long as they remain useful.

In Laredo, where my husband grew up, Spanglish is a dialect that has done just that…created words in order to become more useful for it’s community. Words like “troque” (truck) and “lonche” (lunch) can be found on professional ads for local business, in newspapers and magazines. They are a distinct part of the culture in Laredo and demonstrate the seamless mixing of both languages into one, more useful and complete, dialect. One that is represented in border towns across the country.

In college I took “Proper Spanish” and I can tell you that there is also stereotyping from both Spaniards and Latinos about what constitutes an “authentic” word. Castellanos will likely assure you that there is no such word as “bistek” or “champu” and yet, here we are, learning them in “Proper Spanish” courses. Now, why is it that some words are excepted into Spanish by the majority of speakers and others are not?  The simple answer is time and distance.  We need time to become accepting and distance to demonstrate the number of people who find such words useful. We will continue to speak Spanglish until it is no longer useful, and if it becomes more useful, we may ALL be speaking it!

Chantilly Patiño writes the blog Bicultural Mom, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @biculturalmom.

[Image By News Taco]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]